QueenOnline on Tour: Notes From The Road Part 10
Late afternoon in Saskatoon. Wow, now I'm dealing in poetry and rhyme.
"I just shook Brian May's hand. How about that? Quite the deal for me, big fan, big fan." - The security guard sat outside our production office backstage.
Bless him. I get that, I really do, I STILL do. I am fan of many artists and it can still be a thrill no matter if you work in this business or not. There are plenty of people I would like to say hi too, not that I chase that kind of thing.
Roger has turned up for sound check looking pretty suave; he's wearing a black trilby. Classy. I told him so too.
He popped in a little later, pulled up a chair and we discussed the Chicago show and he asked about the reaction online to the first couple of shows. I showed him the Foo Fighter clip of them covering ‘Under Pressure’ which he liked and finally, I asked him if he was enjoying himself as he was leaving..."Oh yeah!" he grinned.
Sound check is blasting out at as I type this. It has consisted of THAT solo from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody; Brian cranking the riff to 'Stone Cold Crazy' and 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love', all of these are instrumental, although Adam was with them on stage (I just popped out to see what was going on). Adam eventually then started to warm up under Spike's guidance to 'Somebody To Love', before nailing 'Don't Stop Me Now' and 'Killer Queen' with the full band. They also tinkered with a small section of 'In The Lap Of The Gods'.
OK, 'Bus Life' as promised.
It's not as bad as you think. Having said that I'm only out here for 2 and half weeks, I might feel differently after 6 weeks hammering the highways. We have 4 buses shipping us around and no, for those of who have asked, Brian, Roger and Adam do not have a bus, they fly between the dates with management and their teams.
It is important to note that as soon as the show ends at 10.15pm or so, the guys leap into action to break the show down and load out and we are normally clear and ready to hit the bus by 2.30am and travel to the next venue, so in most cases a lot of the 44 crew have pulled roughly 19 hour days. Prior to getting the bus everyone will have a shower between the hours of about 12am and the 2.30am mentioned, the venue provide the towels and the facilities, we all bring a 'day bag' which contains a change of clothes and wash bag. Most change into 'comfies'. Baggy shorts or bottoms, a fresh T-shirt, hoodie and flip-flops are pretty standard. The dirty, stinky roadie tag seems a thing of the past.
"We're a bus." That means everybody is on and lets move on out.
We have 12 bunks, two sets of six either side of the gangway in the middle of the bus, and there is a seating area at the front with a table, TVs, and the 'kitchen', with another to the rear. The sleeping arrangements all start with the most senior member of the bus picking his bunk, in our case it was Head Carpenter and fellow Essex boy Keano who got first dibs, after that it was a free for all. I have a middle bunk on the right side towards the back; I think I am over a wheel. The bunks are actually pretty comfy and you have curtain that blocks much of the light, it took a while to get used to it, but it is 'coffin-like' and after doing such long days you do sleep and well, I think the motion of the bus helps too. The longest stretch on my tenure was when we did 15 hours from Chicago to Winnipeg. Oh, and you have to sleep with your feet facing to the front for safety reasons so you don't crack you head should we brake.
First and last rule of touring on a bus. No solids in the toilet, from either end. Let's move on shall we?
The bus has a regular turn over of drinks and snacks on the bus which is called 'bus stock', this is refreshed everyday by the catering boss Pete. In the beverage department, it currently includes a selection of juices, beer and wine, plus there is a constant supply of bottles of water. Food-wise there is always bread, crisps, spreads, chocolate, fruit and cold meats to tuck into. Once again, going back to the time we all eventually look to leave the venue there will be some food specially prepared for us as we board. After the Winnipeg show it was a huge platter of sushi, once again, not the sort of image you have of a road crew, all of use stilling there with little plates, chop sticks and discussing pickled ginger and who likes wasabi and who doesn't.
Our driver is called Scott. He's a very nice man. Just thought I would give him a mention. That is about it, we all get on, we talk nonsense most of the time as most guys do, some people read, others watch TV; the World Cup being on is helping too.
Nothing to do with the bus, but I thought it worthy of inclusion. Laundry - we do, do it. We just stick it all in a bag, attach an envelope to it with $20 inside and your name on it, take it to the production office and our runner takes it away, it all comes back by the end of the day. Again, the grimy on the road image is something of a myth.
Oh and I need a haircut, I need to get to our next day off and sort it out. Get myself a 'local' trim.
The next two days will be tough, we have a 'back to back'; Saskatoon and Edmonton, that means load out, on the bus for just 4 hours, then straight into the venue for another long day, no day off in between. See you on the other side!
"Shook Brian May's hand, oh yeah." Our security guard has just told someone else of his Queen related experience, he really is dining out on this one. You can see him holding court on Christmas Day at the dinner table rolling out that tale, I bet he'll embellish it too as time goes on. "So there I was jamming with Brian...."
(Edit: I have just come back stage mid-way through the show here in Saskatoon...my goodness, what a crowd, you guys are smashing it, what a noise!)